Downtown schools, churches takes extra precautions

Published 10:10 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

With an inmate on the loose who escaped from the Warren County jail early this morning, some have been concerned about their safety in downtown Vicksburg.

Downtown preschools were put on lockdown, along with some Vicksburg-Warren County schools, in an effort to keep children safe.

Linda Bryant, owner of Small World Preschool, said parents alerted her to the escape by phone Wednesday morning. With the help of some of those parents, Bryant inspected the school first thing in the morning to make sure all was safe, and she continued to survey the area throughout the day.

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“We’ve been watching the parking lot and the street all day,” Bryant said.

She has also been watching Facebook and has been keeping in contact with parents. Some students stayed home, but most came to school like any other day. The excitement had many at the school feeling anxious, but the staff was not overly worried because they felt safe inside, she said.

“We are doing what we always do in any emergency alert situation,” Bryant said.

Crawford Street Playschool was also on lockdown Wednesday. Danielle Warnock, director of the playschool, said she talked to Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace first thing Wednesday morning. The school went on with business as usual.

“Nothing has been interrupted today except we won’t have recess outside,” Warnock said.

When the school dismisses, school officials typically walk students to their guardian’s vehicle, and Warnock said today officials would have parents walk to the door to get their children as a precaution.

However, Crawford Street Methodist Church is not canceling services Wednesday night.

First Presbyterian Church kindergarten and preschool director Jennifer Coulter said the school has security guards at the door for the beginning and end of each day as students enter and leave the building. She said they have been extra cautious today.

“The authorities have been keeping us up to date,” Coulter said.

The doors to the church are locked during the day and visitors have to be buzzed in to enter. Tim Brown, pastor of the church, said the church would go ahead with services Wednesday night.

The Rev. Sam Godfrey at Christ Episcopal Church said the church has kept the doors locked as a precaution, and he chose to cancel the church’s Wednesday night service.

“We’re keeping an eye out,” Godfrey said.

A First Baptist Church representative said the church always has its doors locked and will have services as planned Wednesday night.

As for nearby restaurants, Main Street Market kept its doors open to customers during its regular hours Wednesday.